Avery Bradley made an understandable decision this week, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard informed the team he won’t play in the NBA’s restarted season in Orlando, citing a desire to remain with his family, which includes a 6-year-old son with a pre-existing health condition.
Bradley isn’t alone in sitting out the NBA restart and has every right to steer clear of Florida, which has seen a recent spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis
The Lakers are a legitimate NBA title contender, though, and will miss Bradley’s presence as their starting point guard.
“In a best-of-seven series, I think Avery Bradley gets you a game with his defense,” NBC Sports Boston Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely told co-host Chris Forsberg on the latest Celtics Talk Podcast. “I think he’s that good. I think he can have that kind of impact.
“When you talk about winning at the level that the Lakers want to, you’re going to need difference-makers. You’re going to need guys beyond your superstars to make a difference. And Avery Bradley is one of those guys.”
Listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:
That begs the question: How does Lakers star LeBron James feel about one of his “difference-makers” deciding not to play? Blakely imagined it couldn’t have been easy for Bradley — a respected veteran who spent seven seasons with the Boston Celtics — to break the news to James.
I think that was a tough conversation for Avery. Because the one thing about Avery Bradley is, he’s very respectful of all players. … Even when Avery wasn’t playing (in Boston), he was always in the huddle trying to hear what they’re saying, trying to soak in as much information as he could because he wanted to be a great player and he wanted to learn from the greats.
I think that was a very difficult conversation for him. Because Avery knows that LeBron’s window to win (another) championship is shrinking by the day, and he knows what he can bring to the table. He knows how important that is to helping LeBron and his legacy and helping the Lakers and maybe most important, continuing to be that type of player as one of the (NBA’s) best defenders.
James hasn’t publicly addressed Bradley’s decision, but the Lakers forward did share a photo Wednesday on Instagram of he and superstar teammate Anthony Davis in which Bradley was partially cut from the frame.
Of course, Bradley is missing out on his own chance to win a title that has eluded him for nine NBA seasons. Considering his reputation as a great teammate, it had to be a tough decision for the 29-year-old to stay home, even if it was the right one for him and his family.
“For him to walk away from potentially winning a championship, I think that was a tough pill for him to swallow personally, and I think it was tough for him to bring to the table with LeBron,” Blakely added.
“Because no matter what people say, LeBron moves this league in a way no one else does. And when you have to go to him as a teammate knowing what you’re about to say is going to be disappointing to him, that cannot be a good feeling. But I give Avery Bradley credit. He’s handling it like a grown man.”
Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.
Celtics Talk Podcast: How does LeBron James feel about Avery Bradley opting out? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston